In order to get the most out of a mushroom tincture, it should be extracted with both alcohol and hot water. Chaga contain beta-glucans and other polysaccharides, which are responsible for the immune modulating effects. These polysaccharides are protected by a tough cell wall called chitin, which needs heat to break down. Then alcohol is used to extract the constituents that aren’t water soluble.
I made this recipe based on the information received from one of the head honchos at Fungi Perfecti. Of course, this recipe can be used with any mushrooms.
Step 1. Chop up the chaga into small pieces. Do this while its still fresh, otherwise it will become too hard. I use a chef knife and a rubber mallet to do the chopping. Put the knife on the chaga and pound the back of the knife with the rubber mallet. Then I blend the pieces with a Vitamix.
Step 2. Fill a jar with chaga, leaving 1.5-2 inches of space on top. Then top off with at least 100 proof vodka (the stronger the better). Let it sit for at least 2 months, shaking it every day.
Step 3. After a few months, strain out the alcohol and put the chaga into a clay or glass pot. I use a cheese cloth to separate the chaga. Measure of the amount of alcohol left over, then set it aside in a jar.
Step 4. Then measure out an amount of water equal to the alcohol. Pour that water into the pot of chaga, then stick a wooden chopstick into the pot to measure the water level. Use a knife and cut a notch on the chopstick to mark the exact water level. This is what you want the final water level to be after the decoction is done. Fill the pot with twice that amount of water. Bring to boil and let it simmer on low heat.
Step 5. Keep checking the water level with the chopstick. When the water level is the same or less than the notch on the chopstick, take it off the heat and let it cool. If you began the process with freshly harvested chaga, make the water level less than the notch to account for the extra water. The next day, add more water and do another decoction. Repeat for a total of three decoctions.
Once the third decoction is finished, let it cool. Then strain out the chaga chunks and mix the decoction with alcohol saved from earlier.
I bet this will make a good White Russian: 2 shots chaga, 1 shot Kahlua, fill with almond milk :-)